- The Washington Times - Monday, June 25, 2001

Turkey and Europe

The new spokesman for the Turkish Embassy had no idea that, within his first weeks in Washington, he would be defending his country against criticism from the speaker of the European Parliament.

Mehmet Ali Bayar came to a luncheon of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation to listen to Hans-Gert Poettering discuss the future of Europe, not to debate whether Turkey deserves to be considered for membership in the European Union.

Mr. Poettering, the leader of the conservative majority in the parliament, said he opposed allowing Turkey to join the EU until its makes sweeping reforms to correct human rights abuses and other issues.

"It is up to Turkey to change its society in accordance with the values of the EU," he said.

Many Turks believe that kind of talk is simply an excuse to keep a Muslim nation out of the Christian European club. Turks also point out that as a member of NATO, they protected the southern flank of Europe throughout the Cold War.

Mr. Bayar said Turkey "had paid every price" to aid Europe, a reference to an earlier comment by Mr. Poettering, who had said Western Europe would have "paid any price" to help free Eastern Europe.

Mr. Bayar said Turkey is "trying to promote the common values of Europe" and is working on reforms to make it eligible for EU membership.

On other issues, Mr. Poettering praised President Bush for the success of his European trip. He said the disagreements between the United States and Europe are "normal."

"There will always be tensions, but we will overcome these tensions through dialogue," he said. "America is not always right, and Europe is not always right. But we always want America to be with us."


Lauredo resigns

Luis Lauredo has ended his service as U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, praising the OAS for "making a difference" in the lives of citizens in the Western Hemisphere.

Mr. Lauredo cited the OAS´s efforts to ensure fair elections, protect human rights and combat drug trafficking. He said Peru´s recent presidential election was a "testament to the enhanced effectiveness and value of the OAS."

"The OAS is capable of action that makes a real difference in the lives of our citizens," he said.

Colombian Ambassador Humberto de la Calle, chairman of the OAS Permanent Council, praised Mr. Lauredo for his "tireless efforts … to benefit the people of the hemisphere."


Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• South African President Thabo Mbeki. He meets President Bush tomorrow and addresses a National Press Club luncheon on Wednesday.

• Muratbek Imanaliev, foreign minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, who holds a 12:30 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

• Ambassadors Hans Winkler and Ernst Sucharipa, the Austrian diplomats who negotiated Austria´s Holocaust restitution fund. They meet State Department lawyers to discuss the progress of the program.

• Hashim Mustafa Omer El-Tinay, president of the Salam Sudan Foundation, who addresses the Middle East Institute.

• Alejandro Toledo, the president-elect of Peru, postponed his trip to address the U.S. Chamber of Commerce due to the earthquake in Peru.

Tomorrow

• Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who meets President Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

• Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Zimbabwe opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe. He addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies and meets members of Congress and State Department officials.

Thursday

• Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army. He meets Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut and members of the House International Relations Committee. He holds a 2 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club.

Friday

• Former Australian Prime Minister Gareth Evans, who participates in a National Press Club forum on the work of the International Crisis Group.

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